Gates of Hell opened? Mysterious sulfur-smelling fogbank envelopes city of Seattle in dense, smelly fog

// January 10th, 2015 // News

Gates of Hell opened? Mysterious sulfur-smelling fog envelopes city of Seattle in dense, smelly fogbank

Residents of coastal US city of Seattle are mystified at a massive fogbank that has enveloped the entire area in a foul-smelling mist. Just after midnight on January 7, 2015, Seattle citizens began flooding social media networks with tales (and photos) of a large bank of dense fog that rolled across the landscape filling the streets with a pungent, sulphur-smelling odor reminiscent of “manure or pulp mills”. Others described the odor as smelling like “dead fish”, “sewer water”, “sulfur”, and “a giant flaming bag of manure”.  Nobody (including experts) are quite sure what caused it.

Mysterious dense fog that rolled into Seattle spreading stinky smell throughout the cityNewspapers reported on the event this week with headlines reading “All of Seattle Smelled Like Poop Last Night” and “The Stink-Fog that Coated Seattle” – but none could offer an explanation for the gunky fog that crept through the town. Media outlets noted that the smelly fog extended beyond Seattle proper onto Bainbridge Island and far north/south of the city.

One local meteorologist suggested recent flooding trapped pollutants in the soil while another local weatherman theorized it was the result of a “low-level inversion” (temperature warming with height) over Puget Sound which trapped air pollutants and held them near ground level. However, these types of inversions are common in Seattle and nobody in the area recalls a similar smelly-event in the past. A third local meteorologist admitted to reporters he had no idea what could be causing the smell.

“We don’t know why it’s happening either. We’ve been trying to figure it out all morning.”

City officials confirmed there were no sewer outflows or spills and light winds ruled out smelly air flows from regional pulp mills. Some proposed the smell may have been sulfur released from the ground, an event somewhat common prior to an earthquake. Others blamed some sort of government experiment gone awry and one suggested the mysterious smell may be rising from the network of dark underground tunnels that were once ground level at the city’s origin in the mid-19th century.

For those that are worried, the Puget Sound Clean Agency reported no declines in air quality. Still, air quality experts are not sure what caused the awful aroma.

Mysterious dense fogbank that rolled into Seattle spreading stinky smell throughout the cityBelow are samples of reports that went out across social media:

“Seattle is currently covered with fog that smells like sewer. Seriously, I just drove one end of the city to the other. Same smell. WTF. – James L. Sutter”

“Good to be back in #Seattle. Well, except for that horrible smell. What’s up with the stink could over the city? – Sears Young”

“I’ve always wondered what it would smell like if all the werewolves in #Seattle had diarrhea at the same time… – Michael Stegner”

“Why does Seattle smell like a paper mill? Yuck! – Ann Lancaster”

“I’m not going crazy! Seattle does smell like dookie right now. I’m not the only one to encounter this u unusual occurrence. – Dexter Blue”

“Does fog usually smell like rotten eggs? Anyone else in #Seattle smell the grossness? – Caitlyn Patten”

“And while I’m stating obvious things like the distinctly odd smell in Seattle: honorable mention to the spooky-weird fog. – Jen King”

Sources: Seattle Weekly, Cliff Mass (meteorologist), Johnny Burg (meteorologist), City Lab, Komo News, New York Daily News

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